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July 15, 2009

South Africa gets a thumbs up from foreign tourists

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Cape Point: Cape Town’s natural beauty was cited as one of the most appealing aspects of the Mother City. Photo courtesy Pet_r

World soccer governing body FIFA wasn’t the only one to give South Africa the thumbs up for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. A survey commissioned by Cape Town Tourism has found that Confederations Cup visitors were happy with proceedings too. In fact, an overwhelming majority of the respondents (63%) said they would return for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The study, conducted in partnership with the University of Cape Town, consisted of a survey of 323 foreign tourists who were in South African to attend the soccer games. Most of the respondents were between 19 and 45 years old, with most of these in the 19- to 29-year age bracket. Questionnaires were distributed at stadiums around South Africa (in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Rustenburg and Bloemfontein), as well as at major hotels in Johannesburg.

A third of the foreign tourists surveyed were travelling in groups of more than six - not only tour groups, but also groups of families and friends. Interestingly, 16,6% were travelling alone.

The largest portion of respondents (47%) said they had travelled overseas to attend a sporting event only once before in the past five years.

Almost 50% of respondents rented cars while in South Africa, while 10,42% said they had used minibus taxis.  However, far too few respondents felt safe using public transport in Johannesburg: 19,6% strongly disagreed with the questionnaire statement that they felt safe, while 16,56% disagreed with the statement. This is a concern that needs to be addressed before the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but the introduction of the Rapid Bus Transport System and public transport developments such as the GauTrain should improve safety perceptions of public transport.

When asked what aspect, outside of the Confederations Cup had brought them to South Africa, 71,2% said they were most attracted by South Africa’s culture, history and natural beauty. Surprisingly, only 15,3% of respondents considered “value for money” to be an attractive aspect of the country.

As expected, most respondents (53,3%) made use of the Internet to gather information to plan their trip to South Africa. Cape Town Tourism has found this to be true, receiving an unprecedented number of hits since the launch of their 2010 mini-site www.capetown.travel/2010.

Of the 323 respondents surveyed (most of whom stayed for 14 days), only one said he would not recommend South Africa as a holiday destination. Almost 4% said they might recommend the country as a holiday destination, but they had not been here long enough – and had not seen enough of South Africa – to give a definite “yes” or “no”.

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Significant numbers of tourists were planning to stay in the Cape Winelands. Photo courtesy Chris Eason

Almost 80% of the respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that they felt safe at the stadia during the soccer matches, with 62% agreeing or strongly agreeing that there was an adequate police presence at the games.

More respondents felt safer walking the streets of Johannesburg during the day than at night. The number of tourists who felt safe in public places was more pleasing: 68,4% agreed or strongly agreed that they felt safe in places such as restaurants and nightclubs, compared with only 8,58% who did not feel safe.

More than half of the foreign tourists surveyed planned to visit Cape Town during their stay in South Africa, planning an average stay of 5,66 days. Most respondents were set to stay in the city centre, or City Bowl, while significant numbers were planning to stay in one or more areas, including the Cape Winelands, the Atlantic Seaboard and the Southern Suburbs. Hotels were the most popular accommodation in Cape Town.

By far, the most appealing aspects of Cape Town were its culture, history and natural beauty, with 81% of respondents choosing this category when asked what, other than sport, had attracted them to South Africa.

Most foreign tourists attending the Confederations Cup were American (33,12%) and 20,25% were from Brazil. Other respondent were from Japan, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Portugal, the Netherlands and Argentina.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold said the survey revealed some interesting findings: “Much of what we foresaw is true but we are pleased to hear that most respondents had an overwhelmingly positive experience of South Africa and plan to return in 2010. This survey is a task list – a benchmark to help us perfect our game.

“The FIFA Confederations Cup was a very good trial run for South Africa and many lessons were learned. Perhaps one of the most important things is that our team, Bafana Bafana, did so well and raised the national pride to unprecedented levels, thus kick-starting the excitement ahead of next year’s big welcome.”

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